Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Who Do You Hang With? - January 13, 2018

I woke up extra early this morning for a variety of reasons. One, I am anxious to participate in a competition today with my Labrador Retriever, a hunting-retrieving contest. Second, it is my forty-sixth birthday, and other than the number, I am feeling better than ever physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And, third, I read an article yesterday afternoon which contained a quote that I simply cannot stop thinking about.


“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” Warren Buffett


I’ve long admired people for who they are more so than what they are or what they have. And, I have written and spoken at length about surrounding oneself with success. I feel today’s post is very personal for many of the same reasons as to why I woke up early, and I would also like to share my opinion on this quote.


For years I have worked diligently toward a successful career as a sales person, manager, business executive, entrepreneur; and on the personal side a good husband, father, son and friend. I have abandoned old “so called” friends in favor of new friends. I have distanced myself from family members who are more about exploiting others to get ahead in life. And, I have exhausted myself more times than I can count in an attempt to rid my organization of bad clients while replacing those bad with good. All through this journey I have enjoyed myself more than I have had regrets.


Around May of last year I experienced an unexpected change of plans in my business when a longtime management team member left the organization rather unexpectedly and with little notice. I was also starting to feel more like a sixty-five year old instead of a forty-five year old. I was enjoying IPA’s matched with a juicy burger too many times per month and not enough fresh fruit and salads. And, I was doing a great job of convincing myself that I was getting a good amount of exercise in.


Then, for some reason I’ve yet to put an exact finger on, I stopped the nonsense, took my own advice, and heeded the words Mr. Buffett states in the quote above. I looked around at the people I was associating with, personally and professionally, and realized I was very much their equal (at least in many ways), but I was not feeling it. It dawned on me that I needed to be a healthier person. I needed to get back to basics in terms of sales. I needed to read for enjoyment again. I needed to be more active with my family. I realized I could be a better person and I needed to start working on it immediately.


I asked myself, “who do you hang with?” The answer was not bad, not in the least, but it shed light on where I wanted to go as a person both personally and professionally. Here’s a glimpse: I would come home in the evening from work, shoot some hoops with the kids, and have a few beers in the driveway with my neighbors. My neighbors, my beer buds, are good people. We don’t have too much in common in professional terms though. One change I made was to stop drinking the beer. That led to less nights with the neighbors but more time with my kids shooting hoops. And, while shooting more hoops I realized I should be exercising more, so I joined a CrossFit gym. Fast forward and I am spending more time (hanging with) other business professionals who are into health, wellness and exercise, CrossFit or other forms.


Don’t get me wrong, I have not abandoned my good friends or my beer buddies, rather I have made choices over the past several months more so about the amount of time I’m spending with people, while trying to expand my network of those whom I deem to be positive influences on my life and career choices. Take for example the fact that I do work as a freelance consultant in the area of sales, sales management and sales performance. There are those I work with who look to me as a positive influence and I am flattered. In return I look to surround myself (hang with) those that can give me good advice, help me explore new opportunities to advance my organization, and who do so “leading by example”. I look for those whose actions speak louder than their words.


I know that I’ve taken on this challenge at other times throughout my life, in high school, college and in my career, where I’ve needed to push ahead by putting some people behind me. I feel I am in a very good place today, and I believe I am hanging with those that I not only admire, but those that want to hang with me for equal reasons.

Commit to being the "Best Version Of You" - January 6, 2018

I’ve became a fan of author Matthew Kelly after reading The Dream Manager. Since then I’ve read several other books and found that his style, tone and messages really speak to me. One such message that resonates throughout many of his writings is “becoming the best version of yourself”. He doesn’t just preach this message to the reader, he explains why it is important, and how each and every person can make this message their own as they work toward becoming the best version of themselves.


Mr. Kelly is a devout Catholic and many of his works are derived from his faith. They tend to be written with a Catholic tone, so to speak, and are based in having faith or a belief system. But, regardless of whether you do or do not believe in religion, the ideology of becoming the best version of yourself works, especially if you are a career-focused sales person. I imagine most ‘A’ level sales people can relate, but for those that are unfamiliar with this concept, here are my thoughts.


Striving to be the best version of yourself will not, and quite frankly, should not come easy. If it were easy, we’d all be the best sales people in our industries making millions of dollars per year, all while being able to look ourselves in the mirror stating, “yep I’m the best version of me”. Sounds kind of hokey, huh? It is not realistic. Sure, there are a few pompous individuals out there who act this way, and we can all spot them a mile away, but for most, we all want to do better in sales. In fact, I suspect sales is an extension of who we are, and so we all want to do better in life, to be a better person.


This, loosely, is the concept of being the “best version of you”. It is the idea that your life and your career are building blocks, and these building blocks will help you grow, so long as you have a solid foundation and remain focused on your growth. Several years ago, when I got into reading Mr. Kelly’s books, I committed to becoming the best version of myself. One day it dawned on me that I was a business owner, sales person and consultant; I was a husband and a father of three; I was a volunteer and a board member for several organizations; but, was I the person everyone not just wanted in those roles but needed me to be in those roles.


As I took time to self-evaluate where I was in my life, I realized I could do more by being more. I realized that I needed to be much more careful in making commitments to others so I didn’t come out half-assing something. I needed to be a better husband and father by being present in both body and mind at my family’s activities, including being a sounding board for my wife at the end of a long day. I also realized that my own faith and health need not be taken for granted. In other words, I identified ways in which I felt I could become a stronger person for myself, thus becoming a stronger person for everyone else.


Being the best version of you does not require a long, drawn out playbook. It requires dedication. Simply put, you must dedicate yourself to being aware of who you are and who you want to be. This is an everyday dedication. One year ago I thought I was fairly healthy, could run a few miles without much effort, but in fact was about as average as average could get. I had put on a few pounds and shed a few pounds. I would fast from beer drinking and then join in neighborhood fun pairing heavy beers with food we were having during a cookout. I would attempt to workout in my basement and then oversleep. It was a long time coming, but I finally woke up and thought I was definitely not in very good shape, and in fact, was not working toward the best version of me.


Not being one to dip my toe in the water, rather jumping right in the deep end most of the time, I decided to join a CrossFit gym. I began by going three to four days per week for the first two months as I learned the ropes (no pun intended for you CrossFitters out there). Then I made the commitment: if I am going to continue to work toward becoming the best version of me, I need to take my health even more seriously, and push aside distractions and dedicate myself to a new routine. I now workout five to six times per week. I need it. I feel terrible when I don’t work out. But, when I do, I feel great. And, because I’m feeling stronger, healthier, and much more confident in my own appearance, I feel as though I’m becoming a better version of myself (not the best yet).


Building upon this approach to CrossFit, I have also re-committed myself to my sales education. I’ve been at this game for a long time, and I do know a lot, but as technology and innovation speed lightyears forward, I need to continue to educate myself on the current trends in my industry, how to pitch business in the 2018 climate, and how to use my existing skills to drive sales forward with a new (millennial) type of clientele. In doing so, in my desire to learn more, I am working toward being the best version of me. This will make me a more successful sales person which will ultimately benefit my family and my organization.


I encourage you to take a step back at the end of each day and evaluate your accomplishments for that day. Were you at your best, for you, your family and your organization? Could you have done things differently, better? Are there areas in your life that you feel could be improved, strengthened, altered, or enhanced? Do you feel you need to attend church more regularly, get back into the gym, drop a few pounds, coach your kid’s softball team, etc.?


If you want to be a better version of you, take the first step and make the commitment, and then dedicate yourself to making one small change / improvement each day toward your goal.

Goodbye 2017 - December 30, 2017

As we get older and we put more mileage on our own engines, we can all look back and say some years were better than others. I, for one, am neither happy nor sad to see 2017 come to an end, but I am prepared to say goodbye to it and hello 2018.


2017 on a personal level was a pleasant year. My children are growing, maturing, and accomplishing so much in their young lives that, well, I cannot begin to sing their praises. I feel truly blessed that my family was and is healthy. The year was without any personal tragedy or loss. In many ways I’d sum it up as a pretty average, maybe above average, year.


On the business front 2017 was not terrible either, yet it was not the year I had planned. I did experience loss in the form of a few long-time clients. I lost a few good team members too, especially one who moved overseas. Adjustments were made on the fly, ones that proved to be the right call at the time, but it was stressful nonetheless. I am generally pleased with 2017, but again I can’t help but wonder what could have been if the changes did not happen.


I am looking forward to 2018. I hope for better times ahead both personally and professionally. I hope my son learns to drive carefully, obtains his driver’s license, and is blessed with no driving incidents in his young driving career. I’m hoping my daughters remain steadfast and focused on their academics and extracurriculars. I hope my wife and I continue to be healthy as we focus on the parenting of teenagers.


And, as I ponder what is to be as a professional sales person in 2018, I hope for success. I hope for continued success as my business grows, my employees grow, and my clients grow. I hope we continue to find ways to provide return on investment for our clientele as the industry speeds forward unlike anything before. The key to all of my personal and professional wants is hope. I do believe in my and my teams skills. We have what it takes to have a great year and it is through my hope that I envision the year ending successfully. I too hope you have a great 2018. Thank you for reading SaturdayMorningSales and Happy New Year.

Did You Waste Time This Year? - December 23, 2017

I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “what a waste of time” something was, such as a concert, a presentation, a sporting event, or a meeting. It happens. We don’t have a crystal ball so we cannot predict the future. When I ask the question “did you waste time this year”, I am not referring to these minor happenings that are practically inevitable, my question is much deeper. As 2017 draws to a close, looking at bigger picture happenings in your sales career throughout the past 11 ½ months, did you waste time by not being present in the moment? Did you waste time by ignoring market conditions? Did you waste time by not reaching out to your customers more often? Did you miss opportunities to advance your sales because you were off wasting time when you should have been working?


I am not suggesting that you skip a vacation or come into the office when feeling sick. All too often, especially with ‘B’ and ‘C’ level sales people, they lie to themselves. There is a feeling they are busy, the workload is pushing manageable, and sales are okay, when in fact they are having their doors blown off by the ‘A’ level sales person. This is about time management. It’s about prioritizing your life, making time for your spouse, your kids, your hobbies, and still kicking ass in sales. It is about always living in the moment and being aware of the world around you. It is about NOT wasting time.


I developed my own time management exercise years ago, blending different approaches and professional sales trainer ideas, and I call it the quadrant. Weekends are mine. I have a wife and three children. I have responsibilities to them, other family, my friends and my faith. But, Monday through Friday is about my career choice as a sales person. My quadrant begins at 5:00 AM on Monday morning and ends at 5:00 PM on Friday evening. In each of the four categories – sales / management / professional development / personal – I list my weekly activities and responsibilities. Each and every week I evaluate my calendar, my hourly, daily and weekly schedule, and I look for ways to engage and not waste an ounce of energy or time.


During the holidays, this time of year, many sales people are feeling stressed and anxious because of their performance, or lack of performance, from the previous 11 ½ months. Many wait until now to self-evaluate, ponder their performance, and plan for the new year. However, this should be a regular (at least weekly) occurrence.


My challenge to my own team and to you is this: have you wasted time this year? No, you cannot get it back, but you can learn from this exercise. Identify those times where you feel you wasted time, missed an opportunity, or did not work to your potential. Explore ways you can avoid this happening again. Commit to better time management skills. Exercise the quadrant to your advantage. Have a great holiday season and a better 2018.

Lead By Example: Show Success-Do Not Show Off - December 16, 2017

Pompous. Arrogant. Egotistical. These descriptive words are my enemy. I’ve had these words used against me in my career and they’ve really hurt me. Naturally, I want to be liked, and I want my employees and peers to view me in good light. I would much prefer to be known as humble, sincere, or leader. It has been a number of years since I was referred to in the negative, as far as I know (lol), so how did I overcome such poor views.


There was a time, much earlier in my career, when I thought materialism was a sign of success. It may have been my choice of watering hole, vacation spot, the car I drove, or simply the logo on my shirt. More so, it was my attitude added to these things, that portrayed me in not so pleasant ways. Thankfully, this was a very short stint in my overall career.


I guess one could say that I was wise enough to see my poor behavior and make the necessary changes in my habits. I’d say I was lucky. I was mentoring a young man in his early sales career and I wasn’t much older myself. We were driving back to the office after a sales meeting when he said he was impressed by me as a sales person. Well, thank you. Except what should have been a compliment resonated with me in the fact that I was not really the person he was describing. James was full of compliments: nice car; that new suit looks great on you; I wish I could take my girlfriend to dinner at XYZ restaurant, maybe when I’m more successful like you; must feel good to have this, that, and the next thing; I can’t wait until things come easy for me like they do for you.


Things did not come easy for me, not in the least. At that point in my career, only a few years out of college, I was living in Ohio, the fourth state in less than four years. Nothing had come easy. But, it was my outward attitude that made James believe I was much more successful than I really was, and in fact, this bothered me. This was a turning point in my life and my career. Within a week I began to focus on my attitude, trying to be a better, more humble human being. I dropped the act. I started to show people who I was, who I really was, and became more open about struggles and challenges. Nothing came easy, and if it did, it was likely not a real success story. Ultimately, what it came down to, I stopped showing off, and learned how to show real success.


Twenty years has passed since James helped me more than I helped him. Not a week goes by where I don’t thank him. To this day I pride myself on being a sales and business leader that tries hard to show success based on effort instead of showing off. Sure, I take my family on vacation. I have more than what I’d call the basic essentials in life. But, I try very hard not to flaunt these possessions, as it is my goal to show achievement to my team in the form of new clients, new engagements, and general business success. Showing success has nothing to do with ego, showing off is nothing but ego. Be successful, my friends.

Recovering From A Tough Year - December 9, 2017

There are times throughout the year where I consult (on a freelance basis) to sales organizations on topics of performance, hiring, planning, and other sales related topics. Last week I engaged with an old client whose sales team has had a very tough year. Having had a few of those myself over the course of 24 years in sales, I was able to counsel them from the heart. The key to my message was “nothing lasts forever”.


Sales is a career that has many up’s and down’s. It is certainly not the only career choice with an emotional swing, but one of the few that has an emotional swing that occurs on a near frequent basis. It’s one thing to lose a deal here and there, where the emotional swing is downward, while hitting a few homeruns and the emotional swing goes up. But, what do you do to motivate an entire team with a years-worth of disappointments or losses?


My client gained a few new customers this year, four to be exact, but also lost nine. They started the year with high hopes and great anticipation that the year would be full of wins, adding clients and not losing clients, and expanding market share. However, the loss of a longtime sales rep to illness was unexpected and certainly not planned for. Client losses did not come all at one time, rather spread across the calendar year, but with little-to-no reasoning or explanation as to why the client was leaving. The sales team did not take advantage of opportunities presented to ask why and now it may simply be too late.


On a bright note, the company is stable overall, and has two new consumer facing products being launched mid-next year. Knowing the company has a survival mentality in the C-suite, it was time to put the sales team in their place, in a positive way.


Through my counseling, based on the theme that nothing lasts forever, we explored the reasoning that went into the annual plans that obviously fell short. We outlined plans for 2018 and talked about setting more realistic expectations. We discussed personal goal setting (see last week’s post) in addition to business goal setting. And, we talked about why the company will be successful in spite of the sales team members. Nothing lasts forever – even some jobs.


The sales team members needed to come to terms with the fact that their own motivation dwindled throughout the year. Not one person stepped into a leadership role, rather it appears everyone was too worried about losing another client. Instead of pushing ahead, the sales reps simply wanted to protect their individual territory. They became more reactionary instead of being proactive with ideas for their clients.


At the end of my engagement we seemed to all be on the same page and in tandem with the plans set forth by the C-suite. Somewhat surprisingly, and in a positive way, each sales rep owned their mistakes and missteps. They recognized their shortcomings and outlined business and personal goals. Each has made a commitment, not just to themselves, but to each other to support the goals of the entire organization with an eye on their own individual goals. And, management has agree to hold the team more accountable, by being more proactively involved in day-to-day and week-to-week management of the sales process.


Nothing lasts forever. Start the year with a fresh perspective, keep your eyes on the prize each and every day, and 2018 will put 2017 in the dust.

Share Your Personal Goals - December 2, 2017

Wow, the end of year is already upon us, and if you’re like me, you are well on your way for 2018 planning. Each and every year of my career I take time from mid-November through mid-December to reflect on the year wrapping up, and to give serious consideration about how I might want the year ahead to go. Planning and goal setting has always been important to me. And, setting a few personal goals into the mix of my business goals has been a mainstay. More importantly, I don’t keep these personal goals to myself, I share them with my team.


As sales people we all tend to set similar goals: revenue generation, profit margin increases, new client development, market expansion, and the like. Oftentimes, sales people relate personal goals, when asked, to these business goals. For example, a personal goal is to exceed my quota by 11.5%. To me this is not a personal goal. This is still a business goal.


Personal goals have a direct and immediate impact on your personal life. Personal goals impact your significant other, your family, your home, etc. and they can relate to your business goals, yet they are still separate. When viewed as a combination, the business goals become the means to achieving your personal goals, so why not share.


For many years I have encouraged my team members to outline not only their business goals for the new, upcoming year ahead, but also share at least a few of their personal goals. And, when I say share, I do mean share. Share some amount of detail as to why these are personal goals, what impact these personal goals will have on your life, why is that personal goal important to you, what will that personal goal mean to your family, and how can your fellow team members support you with this knowledge they now possess about your personal goals. Allow me to use a personal goal for 2018 as an example.


I was fortunate this past Tuesday to make and confirm a reservation for a family ski trip during Christmas of 2018. That’s right, one year from now, yet the reservation had to be made on Tuesday. In fact, the resort was sold out in less than 10 minutes for this specific week, and I was lucky enough to get a place. Planning ahead for a family trip over one year away is a key to my goal setting for all of 2018. Here’s why – my wife and I have a preview of school calendars for the next 3 years. My son will be a high school junior next year and then planning for college. Outside of Christmas vacation next year, my three children do not appear to have corresponding schedules for the foreseeable future, and so we decided this would be the time to take this ski trip.


Obtaining the lucky reservation for Christmas 2018 was only the first step in making the trip a reality. In order to make the trip happen, I need to hit my business goals. My business goals are to increase sales for the company as a whole, as well as increase my own book of business. I need to expand the sales team with new personnel, those ‘A’ level sales people I frequently talk and write about. I need to engage my own client base to increase their use of my firm. And, aside from my primary company, another business goal is to expand my freelance consulting.


I will not be purchasing plane tickets until late next summer or early fall. I will know then if I am on track to hit my business goals. If I am on track then the trip is a go. If I am not, well, the trip may not happen. However, I’m forging ahead into the new year with this trip as my primary personal goal. I want, no I need, my team to know about this goal. I need them to hear the sincerity in my voice as I explain what this trip will mean to my family before the kids get older and start college. I will need their help. I will need their help selling, meeting my clients expectations, and help keeping the business goals overall on track.


I encourage sales managers to take this approach and encourage your sales team members to set and share personal goals. Listen intently on what those goals are and why. Ask yourself what you can do to help your team achieve those personal goals. You do have something to gain, hitting your business goals, because most people will achieve their personal goals only by hitting their business goals. Happy 2018 Planning!

Data Analysis for the Sales Person - November 25, 2017

Let me start by saying, even though I’ve been in sales leadership for a long time, I am not a fan of over-reporting. Given all of the ways in which we obtain consumer data today, we can be inundated with reports, analytics, metrics, data, data, data, and more data. So, I’ve long been a believer in the key data points, profit & loss, and keeping it simple and straight forward.


With that said, please don’t get me wrong, data and data analysis are extremely important for the sales person / team, and something each and every sales person needs to embrace. And, once a sales person does embrace this level of reporting and information, it will become second nature.


Of course, there are the standard reports that every sales person needs to read and evaluate if not daily at least weekly. Their own customer sales stats and the company P&L broken down by account. Every good sales person wants to, or should, know where they stand year-to-date, and how their accounts (customers/clients) are doing. But, with the vast amount of data available, here are a few other key reports I strongly suggest the ‘A’ level sales person jump on.


Website Performance – How is your company’s website performing? Is the website ranking well? Can your customers and prospects find you easily through Google search? Sales people have insights into their individual customers behavior and the website should be helping them not hindering them.


Inbound Leads – Does your company receive inbound leads through the website, social media, telephone, etc.? How does your territory or market segment stack up against others within the company and against the competition? What is the average turnaround time for responding to these leads?


Competitor Positioning – Are you aware of how your company fairs in the marketplace against the competition in areas of pricing, performance, responsiveness, customer support, etc.?


Your Marketing Team – Are you engaged with your marketing team? Do you know what initiatives they are working on? Do they know what is happening in the area of sales? Have you taken anyone from marketing on a client engagement?


These are not time consuming concepts, rather these are areas of information within your company (and market space) that should give you the insight you need to advance in sales performance whether on a per client basis or overall in your area of responsibility.

A Time of Thanksgiving - November 18, 2017

A short post this week, but with a heartfelt message, thank you. I would like to take this opportunity, with Thanksgiving a few days away, to thank my colleagues. Being in a leadership position is not always as easy as one might think, especially connected to sales. 2017, for me, will end in a very different place than I had planned.


When this year began I was surrounded by a group of sales professionals that were on a path toward unmatched success. Collectively we had worked tirelessly on business planning, client reviews, contract revamps, etc. The end goal was to make 2017 the most successful we’ve had as a team. But, even the best laid plans can change, and so goes the course of our sales goals.


Midway through the year several of the key members of the sales team left the organization. The launchpad for this change was based on the sales team leader moving overseas for a new opportunity. Shortly after his announcement and departure, others felt they could not go it alone without his guidance, and thus we took a large step back as an organization.


My colleagues and partners rose to the occasion. Management team members that were not typically involved in sales began to write portions of proposals and go on sales meetings. Referrals were abundant from friends of mine and of the business for new sales people. Ultimately, we hired a new sales team lead and I am thankful for Joe.


As I reflect on this very crazy year, one full of unexpected change, I am thankful for those that were by my side day in and day out. For it is because of these team members that I did not have to “go it alone” and manage the entire change process. Because of them we will hit our slightly revised annual business goals. Because of them we are setting ourselves up for a tremendous 2018. And, because of them, I believe I am a stronger leader today than I was on January 1.


Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

Hire Sales People at the End of the Year - November 11, 2017

This may sound like a completely crazy idea, one that is sure to irk the HR department, but hire your next sales person before the end of the year. Not only am I suggesting you hire them before the "ball drops", but get them started. I’m sure you’re already rolling your eyes and thinking, “what is he talking about”. So allow me to explain this specific hiring concept.


First of all, this approach to hiring is specific to sales people only, as I’m not suggesting you do this with an engineer or accountant. You see, sales people are a bit of a different breed, and most sales people, especially ‘A’ level sales people, immerse themselves into their new environment day one. In fact, the learning begins before they even start their first day, but much of what makes a sales person make it or not in an organization, is how well they adapt to the company culture and can represent the organization in the marketplace. There may be no better opportunity than in November and December to get your new sales person fully immersed.


The end of the year can be a stressful time for many sales organizations and sales people. There’s the end of year push to hit sales figures, ship goods, wrap up services, and work with customers/clients for their new year budgets. A new sales person can learn by shadowing the top performers in their day-to-day routines when there tends to be more deadlines looming than at any other time during the business year.


Believing that one may have an understanding about the personality of their new sales organization will come easily, yet somewhat misleading, during a “normal” time of the year when the sales pace is “normal”. However, learning culture and personality is heightened when stress sets in, and for many organizations stress sets in with holidays and the end of year push. The hope, of course, is that each person and the collective whole of the sales team all rise to the occasion and put their professional best foot forward. What a truly great learning experience for the new person.


I just referenced the holidays. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, although rather cliché, sales people entertain, entertain, entertain. There is an abundance of customer/client luncheon’s, drop-in’s to deliver sweets, or holiday parties. For a new sales person, this is the opportunity of the year to immerse themselves into the organization, meet customers/clients, hear stories, and begin to develop their own “ways” to pitch the company. Instead of sending the new sales rep on a sales call here and there, whatever is available during other times of the year, November and December offer an increased likelihood that the new rep will get their fill of greetings & meetings.


Lastly, while this time of year is hectic, there is also a bit of down time that comes with it for the new person. The new sales rep is not going to be out and about in meetings of their own, most likely anyway, and so as they’re learning and immersing themselves into the new organization, this time of year allows the new sales rep to engage in abundant sales planning. They can use the downtime coming from the customer/client side of the sales process to ultimately prepare for the start of the new year, and the start of their own aggressive sales push.


Speaking from experience, hiring and starting sales people during the 4th quarter may be the best course of action, especially if you want the ‘A’ level sales person to have a full, productive year ahead.